Japan imposes ‘state of emergency’ to curb COVID infections


FILE – In this Aug. 10, 2021, file photo, people wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk under the scorching sun in the Ginza Shopping district in Tokyo. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is pinning his hopes on vaccinations, which started slow but are now making good progress. How this race between shots and disease turns out may determine Suga’s political future, not to mention the health of tens of thousands. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Much of Japan kicked in its government “state of emergency” to curb COVID-19 infections Friday, as well as a less stringent “quasi-emergency,” although worries remained about their effectiveness.

Those requiring hospitalization grew to more than 168,000 people, and complaints have surfaced about hospitals turning patients away.

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The emergency, which lasts through Sept. 12, requests restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m. and not serve alcohol, and shopping malls to limit crowd size.

New daily COVID-19 cases totaled 25,146 people nationwide, averaging 20,307 a day this week, up from 14,729 last week, the Health Ministry said.

The government decided earlier this week to expand the emergency to 13 areas, up from six, including Tokyo and Okinawa. The quasi-emergency now covers 16 prefectures or areas, so about two-thirds of Japan is under some restrictive measure.

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About 40% of adults are now fully vaccinated. About 15,500 people have died from COVID-19.

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